Social Psych Methodology Today’s Agenda Social psych research basics Hindsight bias Bystander Effect and Diffusion of Responsibility Cultural and ethical issues in social psychology An Example How can we decide who is right about the effects of something like sex in the media? Some say it increases the likelihood children will have sex earlier Some conclude that it does not. there a more scientific way to determine the Is answer? Social psychologists believe there is. Social Psychology: An Empirical Science A fundamental principle of social psychology is that social influence can be studied scientifically. The results of some of the experiments you encounter may seem obvious Social psychology concerns everyday topics you may already be familiar with Social Psychology: An Empirical Science Three types of answers to these questions: observational method correlational method experimental method. Probably familiar from some other psych class, but we’ll go over it in terms of social psych. Social Psychology: An Empirical Science Each is a powerful tool in some ways and a weak tool in others. Involves choosing the right method, maximizing its strengths, and minimizing its weaknesses. Going back to that example exposure to sex in the media leads to having Early sex earlier. Early Sexy Media Having Sex Earlier Exposure Going back to that example Could it be something else? Seeking out sexy media Personality Disposition Having sex earlier Third-variable problem: when a third variable causes a relationship between two other variables Social Psychology: An Empirical Science “I knew Obama would win!” Once we know the winner of a political election, the outcome seems inevitable and easily predictable The same is true of findings in psychology experiments. It seems like we could have easily predicted the outcomes—once we know them. Social Psychology: An Empirical Science The trick is to predict what will happen in an experiment before you know how it turned out. Hindsight Bias Tendency for people to exaggerate how much they could have predicted an outcome after knowing that it occurred. Where do research ideas come from? Many studies stem from a researcher’s dissatisfaction with existing theories and explanations. A researcher might believe that he or she has a better way of explaining people’s behavior Hypotheses are continually revised and improved! Hypotheses Based on Personal Observation Many hypotheses come from observations of everyday life Such as Latané and Darley’s hunches about why people failed to help murder victim Kitty Genovese. Murdered in front of 38 bystanders in 1964 in the courtyard of a New York Apartment Complex Kitty Genovese 38 neighbors failed to call police during her prolonged and violent murder in an apartment courtyard. “What’s wrong with those New Yorkers?” Latané and Darley: Genovese’s neighbors might have assumed that someone else had called the police. This is one of those famous studies Diffusion of Responsibility Perhaps the bystanders would have been more likely to help had they thought they were alone was witnessing the murder. This is a form of diffusion of responsibility Diffusion of responsibility: When action is not taken because responsibility is not explicitly assigned Diffusion of Responsibility Occurs when everyone assumes that someone else has taken care of the problem Most often in groups of 10+ Almost never occurs in groups < 3. (awe) Diffusion of Responsibility Does this ever happen to you? Bystander Effect: When people do not offer help in an emergency situation if others are present Just in case there’s confusion… The bystander effect is a way that diffusion of responsibility can occur Bystander effect more specifically refers to helping someone. But how do scientists find these things? Types of Social Psych Research Observation Experiment Correlation The Observational Method: Describing Social Behavior Observational Method When a researcher observes people and systematically records measurements or impressions of their behavior. If the goal is to describe what a particular group of people or type of behavior is like. The Observational Method: Describing Social Behavior • In the early 1950s, a group predicted that the world would come to an end in a violent cataclysm on a specific date. • Leon Festinger and colleagues wanted to observe this group closely • Joined and pretended they too believed the world was about to end. Limits of the Observational Method Certain kinds of behavior are difficult to observe because they occur only rarely or only in private. Social psychologists want to do more than just describe behavior. They want to predict and explain it. The Experimental Method: Answering Causal Questions Theonly way to determine causality is to use the experimental method. Method in which the researcher randomly assigns participants to different conditions and ensures these conditions are identical except for the independent variable Experimental Method: Manipulating one thing to try and see change in another thing IV and DV IV Affects DV Increased caffeine More alertness More studying Higher grades Amount of Redskins fans Comfort level of the one in a room Eagles fan Correlational Method How two things relate Can be positive or negative Positive: One goes up, the other goes up Negative: One goes up, the other goes down Comparing Research Methods Experimental method is the method of choice because it allows causal inferences. Observational method helps describe social behavior. Correlational method helps us understand what aspects of social behavior are related. Comparing Research Methods Only a properly executed experiment allows us to draw conclusions about cause and effect. What goes in to a properly executed experiment? Generalizability Across Situations Mundane Realism The extent to which an experiment is similar to real-life situations. Psychological Realism The extent to which the psychological processes triggered in an experiment are similar to psychological processes that occur in everyday life. This one’s more important Generalizability Across Situations Psychological realism is heightened if people feel involved in a real event. Cover Story A description of the purpose of a study, given to participants, that is different from its true purpose, used to maintain psychological realism. Cross-Cultural Research Research conducted with members of different cultures To see whether the psychological processes of interest are present in both cultures or whether they are specific to the culture in which people were raised. Human universal or culture specific Sometimes It’s Both Much research on human emotions has shown evidence for both: Universality: People in different cultures express emotions on their faces in the same way Cultural influences: People are best at recognizing emotions expressed by members of their own cultural group. Basic Versus Applied Research Basic Research Experiments: Designed to answer basic questions about why people do what they do. Applied Studies: Research designed to find ways to solve specific social problems. Ethical Issues in Social Psychology Experiments Minimize resemble discomfort real word and stress How do we balance the two goals? Ethical Issues in Social Psychology Informed Consent Agreement to participate in an experiment, granted in full awareness of the nature of the experiment, which has been explained in advance. • In many experiments, this sort of description is feasible—and where it is feasible, it is done. • But sometimes it is impossible. Ethical Issues in Social Psychology Deception Misleading participants about the true purpose of a study or the events that will actually transpire. Not all research in social psychology involves deception. Guidelines for Ethical Research Having an Institutional Review Board approve their studies in advance Asking participants to sign informed consent forms Debriefing participants afterwards about the purpose of the study and what transpired, especially if there was any deception involved Guidelines for Ethical Research Investigatorsstudying the impact on participants in deception studies find: People do not object to the kinds of mild discomfort and deceptions typically used in social psychological research. Most who participated in deception experiments said they had learned more and enjoyed the experiments more than those who participated in nondeception experiments did.